You might be living under a rock if you haven’t heard about the ice bucket challenge to raise awareness for ALS.
All month long, social media has been inundated with videos of people getting buckets of ice water dumped on them. Those people accepted the “challenge.” In the video, they also pass along the challenge to friends. The idea is that people can either accept the challenge—have a bucket of freezing water dumped on them—or donate to an ALS charity. Or they can do both. Most people have been doing both.
Get this: As of August 21, The ALS Association has received $41.8 million in donations compared to $2.1 million during the same time period last year. Only a creative idea sparked attention to a good cause resulting in a 1,890% increase in donations.
ALS is amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, commonly known as the Lou Gehrig disease. It affects nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord, causing lost control of muscle movement. It can lead to paralysis and death.
So what does dumping a bucket of ice on yourself and telling your friends to do the same have to do with ALS? Absolutely nothing.
But it works because it tugs on aspects of our society that are relevant:
- Social media is huge.
- Making videos is easy and fun.
- Americans love a challenge.
- Americans love making their friends do crazy stuff.
- Americans love watching videos of people doing crazy stuff.
- AND, if people are provided with a good enough cause, they are usually sympathetic and generous enough to give to the cause.
The fuel for the idea is the epitome of marketing.
How can your company learn from this phenomenon and use it as a model?
- Your company needs a lot of creativity, for one.
- On top of that, have an understanding for how a crazy marketing idea itself can hook an audience—apart from the actual product or service. Play off consumers’ emotions. Come up with an idea that sparks attention because it is whacky or funny or heart-wrenching.
- Consider involving the audience with an interactive idea. ALS’s current marketing strategy is seeing incredible results because people are so apart of the movement, apart of a cause. This may be the future of marketing as things like hashtags on the internet connect people so readily.
- Be prepared with tools incase your idea really does flare up sales. The ALS Association has an extremely thorough website ready for all its new visitors. They also have been posting articles almost daily about the ice bucket challenge and the amazing amount of donations. They’ve told the public what hashtags to use in their social sharing of the movement and they even have downloadable profile and cover images for Twitter and Facebook that say, “I completed the challenge.” ALS was so ready for this 1,890% increase in donations, which they likely did not anticipate.
- Mold your company’s reputation to be solid and admirable. No funny business!
- Foster trust from your consumers. Value that and work to maintain it.
- The bottom line in marketing: Give the consumer a reason to believe in and purchase your product or service. Get creative!
Frankly, your product or service might not be a very tantalizing or exciting one, no matter how useful it is. But your marketing strategies can be tantalizing and exciting. Focus on building the customer’s trust in your company, belief in your product or service and the vision of how it might change that person’s life.
Check out my ALS ice bucket challenge here!